MADRID (Reuters) – Movistar’s Miguel Angel Lopez has apologised for abandoning the Vuelta a Espana during the penultimate stage on Saturday.
Lopez, who won stage 18 on Thursday, started the day in third overall and looked set for a spot on the podium on Sunday before being caught out by an attack from his rivals.
The Colombian, visibily frustrated, was unable to close the gap and tumbled down the standings, with Bahrain Victorious duo Jack Haig and Gino Maeder as well as Adam Yates (Ineos) moving ahead of him.
Bizarre scenes followed as Lopez got off his bike and abandoned with just over 20km of the 202.2km stage to go despite Movistar’s Head of Performance Patxi Vila’s attempts to coax him back on to two wheels.
“As most of you have seen, the moment when the group split was a difficult situation, hard to resolve. We saw ourselves getting into a difficult position, when some of the best in the GC went ahead of us,” Lopez said in a statement via Movistar’s social media channels.
“I want to apologise to my team-mates. We were a reduced group, only five left in La Vuelta, with only three of them focused on team duties, and they ride their hearts out for us, they give their 100%,” the 27-year-old added.
“I decided to stop fighting into a battle which was all but lost. Now I just want to say to fans, sponsors, La Vuelta organisers – I’m sorry for what happened.”
(Reporting by Joseph Walker, editing by Ed Osmond)